Orchid’s Tangy Cool Noodles


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a luncheon-style dish with assorted “Little Dishes,” .

Appears in

This is the quintessential Chinese cold noodle dish, a tangy northern-style blend of sweet, tart, and spicy tastes that has an astonishing popularity. It was the first Chinese dish I ever made, at a time when I had one tin pot in which to boil and store the noodles, and nothing big enough to toss them in but the kitchen sink.

  • For economy, portability, and adaptability to any number of people or settings, “Orchid’s” cannot be surpassed. Make them in advance. The flavors merge and enlarge as the noodles sit.



  • tablespoons Chinese or Japanese sesame oil
  • tablespoons black soy sauce
  • tablespoons well-aged Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • ½–1 tablespoon hot chili oil
  • 4 heaping tablespoons thin-cut green and white scallion rings

To garnish

  • freshly cut scallion rings


Cooking the noodles

Fluff fresh or defrosted noodles in a colander to release any tangles. (Take care not to tear them. Long noodles in China are a metaphor for long life, and it is great fun to eat them that way.)

Bring a generous amount of unsalted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the noodles and swish with chopsticks to separate the strands. Put the colander in the sink. Cook the noodles until cooked but pleasantly firm to the bite, about 2–3 minutes for fresh store-bought noodles. Drain immediately in the colander and chill thoroughly under cold running water. Shake off excess water, then return the noodles to the clean dry pot or to a large bowl.

Saucing the noodles

Blend the seasonings in a small bowl. Pour the sauce evenly over the noodles, using a handful of noodles to wipe the bowl clean so you don’t lose any of the sugar. Toss gently with your hands to separate the noodles and distribute the sauce, then add the scallion rings and toss again to mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary to achieve a tangy blend of sweet and hot flavors. Remember that the chili will grow more pronounced within a few hours, so err on the cautious side if you are not eating the noodles immediately.

For best flavor, cover and put aside for several hours at room temperature or store overnight in the refrigerator. Toss before eating to redistribute the seasonings. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, heaped in a bowl and garnished with a fresh sprinkling of scallion rings.

Orchid’s” lasts 4–5 days, sealed airtight and refrigerated. Flavor peaks in spiciness on the second day.

Menu Suggestions

“Orchid’s” are marvelous served alongside Dry-Fried Szechwan String Beans and Scallion and Ginger Explosion Shrimp. To extend the menu, add Sweet and Tangy Cucumber Pickles, Soy-Dipped Red Radish Fans, Marbelized Tea Eggs, Tea and Spice Smoked Chicken, and Strange Flavor Eggplant—any or all, depending on the size of the party.